A Failed Housewife

“Are you employed” the nurse asked.

“Not here, not in this country”. I replied, trying to put the point across that I WAS employed, only in a different country.

I was in a hospital emergency room and more than my pain I was worried about my employment status. I had recently gotten married and moved to the US. I had taken some time off from my Govt. job in India and was still in two minds on whether to quit the job or not. Ultimately, I decided that I wanted to be a housewife. I always wanted to get married, have a home and be a homemaker, and now when that was happening, I did not want to ruin it for a job.

But when the nurse asked me about my employment status, something suddenly hit me hard. My response was almost like I wanted to make it clear that I was employed, in a different country though.

The decision to quit the job wasn’t an easy one. It was a high paying government job, with a fancy title and an awesome job profile. But then, I had decided to leave the job for a greater joy in life and I was firm on my decision.

The first few months after quitting my job, I was extremely happy, I experimented with household chores, cooking and tried excelling at being a homemaker and life was never better. But then gradually a weird feeling started seeping into my head. The feeling of being a dependent. It was even more so for me because I had moved to the US and was now on a “dependent” Visa.

Everyone I met saw me as my husband’s wife, everywhere I went I went as a dependent and a “housewife”. In hindsight, I know it was a feeling in my head and not something that had even the remotest connection with reality.

I know a lot of employed women who look down upon “housewives”, I know a lot of men who think “housewives” sit at home the entire day and watch soap operas on TV and gossip over the phone. I know people even use the word housewife to define your status, intelligence, IQ, standard…the list goes on. The entire perception of a “housewife” that our society has created is almost stigmatic. We don’t want to become housewives because we don’t want to deal with the stigma that comes along with it. We don’t have the energy to respond to every single person who questions our abilities and aptitude. A housewife’s opinion is perhaps not as important as someone’s who is employed, no matter how well read or intellectually capable she is because she is sitting at home, doing “nothing” and therefore is not capable to add value to anything. Her place is in the kitchen and the biggest compliment she can get is that she is a “Masterchef”, and that should make her happy and content with her life, because that is all that she probably needs.

This stigma is the reason why any woman who believes she is strong and independent and is a housewife states clearly in her interactions that she “chose” to be a housewife.

How easily we forget the contributions that housewives make to the economy, the contributions they make may not be visible but their impact is felt by an entire household, this is exactly why we have the concept of imputed cost in Economics. But we don’t really think about all this when we are describing ourselves as housewives, we are either in defensive mode or in a sacrificial avatar. And honestly some have accepted it as a given because they are indeed the lowly “housewives”.

I was not strong enough to remain a housewife even for more than six months. I was on a dependent visa meaning I was not eligible to either study or work, but that did not deter my determination to look for a job and get a work visa for myself, and I did. I may be a successful career-woman today but I know deep down inside that I am a failed housewife.

I believe THAT needs to be stigmatic.

-A failed housewife.

This article was originally published here: https://thecoffeelicious.com/failed-housewife-e35156a2bce3